Disentangling the complexity of supply relationship formations: Firm product diversification and product ubiquity in the Japanese car industry

Tomomi Kito, Steve New, Felix Reed-Tsochas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The factors and mechanisms that drive the formation of inter-firm supply relationships are complex, and reflect varying strategies that different firms use when building product portfolios. This study aims to disentangle these complex patterns of interactions specifically by focusing on product diversification and product interdependencies in individual firms, as well as product rarity/ubiquity. The empirical data, which captures the formation of supply relationships between carmakers and their suppliers for 200 products, was analyzed using methods developed in the emerging field of network science. The results provided significant insights into how firms’ portfolios vary and interdepend, how firms diversify their portfolios, and how the effect of these may be reflected in the formation of inter-firm relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1



  • Complexity
  • Diversification
  • Network analysis
  • Product portfolio
  • Supply relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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